Falling Slowly with Marketa Irglova: Live at The Esplanade

The doors opened and Marketa Irglova performed at the stroke of 7:30 p.m. A solo performance of 2007’s 'The Hill' by Marketa started off an enchanting night with the Once little known singer/songwriter from Valašské Meziříčí, Czech Republic at the Singapore Esplanade’s Recital Studio. 

My previous memory of the studio included acts like Rachel Yamagata and Priscilla Ahn. Fast becoming a haven for folk-like, acoustic vocal acts, where the voice takes center stage. Warm and intimate, yet magical and transcendent. You could easily find your way back to a time where music was less intrusive, more refined and elegant in its composition.

Marketa’s devotion to the notion of music can effectuate dialogue at the point where speechlessness might occur. This charm was none so more evoked with the introduction of the Daf played by Aida Shahghasemi in 'The Leading Bird'. The Iranian vocalist/percussionist Aida played her traditional frame drum–made of hardwood with many metal ringlets attached inside a goatskin’s membrane.

In a career marked by serendipitous intercultural unions such as her former romantic relationship with Irish lead singer of The Frames (and bandmate from The Swell Season), Glen Hansard, Marketa has once again formed an effective partnership with friend and fellow songwriter, Aida Shahghasemi. Amidst squirrely electric guitar rifts on a loop machine, the Daf added an almost spiritual presence to the performance, once again celebrating the convergence of styles that has become symbolic of the music Marketa makes.

A particularly haunting rendition of the Iranian song, 'Dokhtar Goochani' sung by Aida completely altered my perception of what to expect as the concert reached midpoint as the lights lit the stage sunburst red.

I found myself closing my eyes often, not to sleep, but to be lulled away into a space that opens between languages, in moments of conflict or misunderstanding, and in relation to the habits of mind and speech that otherwise obstruct the possibility of our listening to each other. Music truly unites all sensibilities for just that one moment and a celebration of the unique cultures that make a utopian ambition, one of great significance.

To not get carried away, the ending of the concert interjected with Marketa’s lively interaction with the audience.

“So how many of you are here because of the movie?”

Candid, meek and soft-spoken, Marketa performed the song 'Falling Slowly' next, a personal favorite of mine. This was to be their last performance of a tour of Asia, which included China and South Korea. As the band collectively sang the words “I’ve loved you wrong”, I, like many others on scene found ourselves falling slowly back in love with Marketa as a solo artist and her transcendent multicultural musical style.